As has become my norm for Waitangi holiday weekend early on Saturday morning I pointed the car south and made my way to Lake Rotoiti in the middle of NZ’s North Island. 

2023 marked the 26th anniversary of the event and after a horror week of ‘once in a 100 years’ rain storms I had concerns that the parade might be postponed or cancelled. Well woodys as you’ll see from the above photo gallery, my fears were redundant.

The day started overcast with some light drizzle but this passed thru before the parade kicked off at 11am. Numbers were down a little from last year but conditions were perfect on the lake. 

Enjoy the gallery above – if you’re craft is featured above and you want a high res copy of the photo, drop me an email at the address below. Apologise if I missed your boat or if the odd photo is a little out of focus – just me in a run-about jiggling the throttle, looking out for other boats and holding the camera 🙂

My pick of the boat I’d most like tied up at my imaginary lake jetty is – ELLEN (#14), 26’ in length, built in 2004 in strip planked cedar from a plug taken off an old abandoned hull found in Kopu. Thought to be a ‘Milkmaid’ design by Bailey & Lowe. Powered by a 29hp diesel.  In my eyes just perfect. Photo below

Special thanks again to Dave and Glenys Wilson for the loan of a boat to get me out on the lake.

As always – click on photos to enlarge.

Lastly I never tire of the sound of big V8 (5.7L)  water exhausts. Shawn Vennell, the owner of Judy H, was lining me up for a prop shower – a few words of warning as to what my reaction would be, made him change his mind 😉


2021 Lake Rotoiti Classic and Wooden Boat Parade – 175+ photos & videos



As promised todays WW story is a doozy, we travelled down to the lake very early on Saturday morning and were hosted by the clubs commodore Dave Wilson and wife Glenys, who own the magnificent 1947 Colin Wild built bridge-decker – Haumoana. The launch is kept at the end of the lawn at their lakeside property (photos below) – More details on Haumoana here

Dave lent me is ‘fishing boat’ – the f/glass runabout seen the photo below, to use as a photo boat for the parade – fingers crossed no one got a photo of me at the helm 😉

Close to 80 classic and wooden craft of all shapes and sizes – power, sail, oar and steam participated in the days events – starting with a parade that snakes around the waterfront properties and vantage points. Post parade every one heads off to Wairoa Bay for an old school boating picnic – being lake based, no issue with tides or anchoring, people just nudge up to the shore – perfect for checking out each others woody.

The afternoon activities had something for everyone – adults and kids activities (egg throwing, bucket diving for sweets etc) + lots of cool prizes to be won.Without a doubt its the best organised and executed boating event I have been to – very slick and the bonus – lots of nice friendly people – we like that 🙂

Enjoy the photos. As always – click photos to enlarge 😉 If I missed your boat, sorry but one boat and one camera can only be in so many places at one time  – next year.


Nunui, Bulwer 1969 just launched 30 10 2015

Nunui 1978 Bulwer30102015


When woody Brynn McCauley was researching Wainui, his grandfathers 1950’s era Marlbourough Sounds fishing boat (now owned by Cameron Pollard) Brynn discovered the whereabouts of Nunui,  his grandfathers last working fishing boat. Nunui was/is….. a small clinker built c.1969 motor boat, that unfortunately has ended its days in Porirua, (photo below).
Brynn commented that he suspects she was originally a row boat that was used to row out to the scows from the shallow bays in the Sounds.
Its amazing that this was a working fishing boat that went way out into the Cook Strait. Those old seamen knew a thing or two and were pretty fearless.
The b/w photo is dated c. 1969 & was taken just after her launching. The colour photo is c.1978.

Do we know any more about her past?

Nunui at Porirua




Wainui on Slipway 1931 Photo sent by Arthur to Cora after purchase30102015

1931 on slipway after purchase

wainui 1931 dark scan30102015

1931 – Love the dogs

Wainui on slipway Bulwer1938 undergoing alteration to stern 30 10 2015

1938 – on slipway undergoing stern alts.

Wainui Bulwer 1940s 30 10 2015

1940’s – Bulwer, Pelorus Sound

Wainui 1955 Smiths Bay Clay Point 30 10 2015

1955 – Smiths Bay, Clay Point

photos & details from Brynn McCauley. edited by Alan H

Brynn’s grandfather owned the launch Wainui in the Marlboroough Sounds from the late 1930’s to 1950 & she was last seen in Wanganui in the late 1950’s.

Brynn is convinced his grandfather’s Wainui is the same Wainui that featured on ww on 16-07-2015 (link here  ) The hull shape and size are a near perfect match for this vessel. This Wainui is lucky to be owned by the Pollard Bros. & when it comes to custodians of classic wooden boats they do not come much better than Cameron & Andrew Pollard.
The Wainui was shortened by cutting off her stern and raised her gunnels by Brynn’s grandfather in the 1930’s so he could use her to fish in the Cook Strait and Outer Sounds. The photos above show her when he originally bought (dark cabin and long stern) her and then the year he sold her (white with high gunnels and cut off stern).

In the 1987 Onehunga photo of the Pollards Wainui we see her with the raised running boards added as she was bought after serving as a mail launch in the Sounds by Arthur McCauley as his fishing boat, and fished on the fishing grounds well out into the Cook Strait and around Durville. She was one of the McCauley Mosquito Fishing fleet described in the book on Nelson and Marlborough pioneering fishing families, and served the family for well over 30 years, fishing, hauling wool and sheep around the Sounds. Patrick McCauley settled in the Sounds in the late 1870’s mining for gold and then cutting the family farm out of the bush. He taught himself to build boats building a fleet of fishing boats initially all sail, then introduced the first petrol engine into the Sounds at the turn of the century in the Ark. He pioneered a design suited to fishing in and out of the Sounds, building them on the beach in Bulwer, Pelorus Sound. He drowned in 1913 by falling off her near Havelock. Arthur his eldest son initially fished from the Ark, on returning from WW1, then purchased the Wainui and fished in her along side the Ark, The I’m Alone and the Eastern Star till 1955 when he downsized to a smaller clinker named the Nunui which unbelievably he continued to fish from well out into the Cook Strait and around Durville. Brynn still has the tender dingy that the Wainui towed which allowed access for picking up the nets and landing ashore on the many hunting trips enjoyed from her around the Sounds.

Wainui has a very special place in Brynn’s family history and they would very much like to learn if this Wainui is the same vessel and be able to chat to the current owners. Which won’t be a problem – Brynn can be contacted on

ps when ww does these ‘hook-ups’ it makes all the work in the background so worth while – 🙂  Alan H

Input from Andrew Pollard
She sure looks like the same boat…Many alcohol fuelled stories with Wainui, one involving some an umbrella and some faulty navigation lights..
Anyhow, as mentioned before we bought her in 1997…as a semi afloat wreck, as I hopped on the floorboards floated into the cockpit to meet me…She was a mess, bitumen on the decks,decay everywhere, a stuffed 40hp Ford diesel and a long since departed snapper carcass soulessly eyeballing us from the bilge…
She was at Te Atatu boat club on poles right outside the clubhouse. They kept her there so they knew when she was about to sink, apparently one of her pastimes!
We purchased her off a dubious bloke named Ryan Cornelious. He purchased her of the guy that steamed her from New Plymouth to Onehunga (a Gary Swordc. Rumour has it they had to wait outside the Manukau bar for the weather to calm down and ran out of fags and booze and things got tense between the crew as a result.
Anyhow Sword took her to a K’road panel beaters yard and fitted the cabin she know has but back then it had huge black tinted windows.
Now we were told he purchased her from a couple of Maori brothers who had cray fished her out of New Plymouth and Waitara area and she was built in 1903…
I had heard whispers of a history in the Sounds…with wool bales…
She is two skin not three, and has 6 (3 each side) huge Pohutakawa knees a midships running from deck level to keel…
She steams like a witch with the Gardner…we don’t open it right up as she starts to suck the back deck down and…

Update – photos below ex Angus Rogers show her hauled out in April 2017 at Okahu Bay, Auckland



07-07-2017 Input from Brynn McCauley

I was given the photos below in November 2016, when I stopped in at Waitara where the Wainui spent some time, by the son of Paul Blossom who owned her there. Its a photo of her in New Plymouth, you can see the breakwater to the left. Amazing when you see her in this photo, taken in the early 1980’s before Paul Blossom took her to Waitara. She looks pretty rough in the photo, incredible she survived.
The colour photo shows where she used to be docked in this tidal stream beside the main river. Spent most of the time sitting in the mud.






I took the above photos of Wainui at the weekend, moored off Bayswater Marina. Going by the posts on ww, Wainui was a popular name for a boat (maori = a small seabird). She looks well cared for & the hose (bilge) out the starboard porthole is a sign that her owner cares about her.

What do we know about this one?

Harold Kidd Input

She’s not one of the two other WAINUIs that have featured on WW but just could be the Arthur Forrester-built WAINUI which has been on the Kaipara all her life. Zach should know. There were several more WAINUIs too.

Input from Zach Matich

Jack Martin of Dargaville had her for years then sold to Westlake family and kept at Tinopai. Photos below

17-01-2023 Update ex Sebastian Stapleton – 

“I saw her on Trademe and purchased her from Bayswater Marina in Auckland about  4 years back. She was sailed down to Lyttelton…. a very long journey.

She spent about a year in the haul out yard at Naval Point and was stripped right back with the help of family and exterior painted and brought up a proud condition.

She is now moored in the estuary at Monks Bay in Redcliffs, Chrisrchurch. She is patiently awaiting the next wave of enthusiasm / time/ money for the next stage of restoring the interior. 🙂

In the meantime a lovely little boat to cruise around the estuary and surrounds, and most of all to enjoy looking at each time we drive past.”


photo ex Jason Prew

Photo from Jason Prew’s during his trip up the Tamaki River with Otira to the Chris McMullen workshop CYA visit. Jason photographed some of the many moored wooden boats moored on-route.

Today’s launch is an ‘interesting’ mix of styles…………. I can just make out a shortish name on her stern starting with W, can anyone ID her & supply more details on her past?

Input from Cameron Pollard

“Wainui” 33ft x not a lot x 3ft. Two skin kauri, built around 1900 .
We have owned her for close to 20 years and was the start of our obsession / illness of collecting old boats.
Steamed from New Plymouth to Onehunga wharf after fishing down there for years.
We rescued her as a half sunk hulk at Te Atatu after the cabin had been fitted in back streets behind K’Road by previous owner.
Replaced quarter of her stern. (Counter already shortened by then)
Fitted a 3LW Gardner of course to replace the old ford. (No clapped out Jap import truck engines go in our fleet)
Used her as our taxi up and down the Tamaki river.
Got tired of the 3LW shaking the coke out of the rum so 6 or more years ago we pulled her at Half Moon Bay and gave her a birthday.
Eased up the window shapes that had previously been fitted retaining the main structure tho as room inside is ample for her size.
Removed the 3LW and fitted a rebuilt 4LK light weight high revving (2000rpm) Gardner. Engine very rare ex ww2 midget submarine but that’s another story on its own.
Relaunched and now a very smooth and quiet wee launch.
Due for her 3 yearly tidy up but will always be part of our clan.

21-07-2015 Photos added – Wainui at Onehunga wharf in 1987 after her trip from New Plymouth & 2 showing her out of the water.



There as been a lot of activity in comments section of ww in regard to Wainui. The original story I posted on her back in June 2013 under the headline ‘Getting Hooked’ told the tale of her current owner Phil Parks & how he came to own the classic wooden launch Wainui. Its a good story & can be viewed at the link below  –

Last Friday the post popped up again & we uncovered some insight into her past & some wonderful details & photos from Harold Kidd. Phil Parks advised that the restoration project was now scheduled to start in late 2014, aside from other things in life getting in the way, there was a wee oops that saw Wainui sink at her mooring.

Firstly a brief history of WAINUI II 

  1. Built by Joe Slattery c1924 for E.O. Ward.
  2. Wrecked on Rangitoto February 1936 and badly damaged.
  3. Ward sold to Val Maxwell, teacher at King’s College, as a wreck. Maxwell rebuilds probably close to present configuration.
  4. Maxwell sells 1939.
  5. Later owners include Sandy Searle 1967-72, then Dr. Ranginui Walker 1972, gap of 3 years then John Hobden 1977-81, Stan Bayer 1981-84, N Amos 1984-7, Ken Meyer 1987-90.
  6. Capt. John Harrison (ex-skipper of HMNZS TUI), Harold has fond memories of the TUI wardroom, bought her at Sandspit 1990 in poor condition with 40hp Ford Ebro. Orams rebuilt her substantially 1991-2. John renamed her Tilikum and kept her at Parua Bay then sold shortly after and went back to sail.


Photo Gallery of WAINUI II

# 2507 was taken in 1928 alongside the Bayswater Wharf. Note the steam trams.

# 2505 shows her being launched for the season from Bailey & Lowe’s. This pic was used in the Herald on 24/10/30. The yacht on the right is almost certainly Ladye Wilma on Heartseae’s cradle.

# 2506 shows her on the rocks at Rangitoto in February 1936 (same image as used in the header)

# 2509 she’s at Lees at Sandpit in April 1990 when John Harrison bought her, looking fine but seriously rotten.

# 2508 at Orams in Whangarei